Bioelectronics

Background

GSK’s Bioelectronics R&D unit is pursuing a relatively new scientific field that could one day result in a new class of medicines that would not be pills or injections but miniaturized, implantable devices.

We believe that these devices could be programmed to read and correct the electrical signals that pass along the nerves of the body, including irregular or altered impulses that can occur in association with a broad range of diseases.

The hope is that through these devices, disorders as diverse as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, asthma, hypertension, and diabetes could be treated.

The idea to pursue bioelectronic medicines came when Moncef Slaoui, chairman of global R&D and vaccines at GSK, asked whether we could continue developing traditional medicines at our current pace and still come up with treatments that make a significant difference for patients. 

He challenged the R&D organization to consider a new approach.

Moncef and Kris Famm, who now leads the bioelectronics R&D unit, spent two years seeking out leading scientists in the field and learning more about their work. 

While there are many exciting projects underway, they weren’t linked together and there was no real awareness of what work was being done. 

Rather than start our own research group, we are serving as the catalyst for these scientists, many of whom are now focused on development of a bioelectronic medicine.

Nature commentary, April 11, 2013: Drug discovery: A jump-start for electroceuticals

Biographies

Moncef Slaoui

Moncef Slaoui has been Chairman, Research & Development since June2006. He is a member of the Corporate Executive Team and the Board of directors of GlaxoSmithKline, PLC. He also has overall responsibility for GSK Vaccines and Oncology businesses.

Since 2012 Moncef has also been responsible for the Franchise organization, focused on new product launches and product  life cycle management. In his position as Chairman R&D, Dr Slaoui has spearheaded a profound overhaul of GSK’s pharmaceutical R&D resulting in a substantial improvement in productivity, with a late stage pipeline comprising more than 30 Phase 3 programs and a totally redesigned discovery organization comprising 38 highly focused and accountable Discovery Performance Units (DPUs).

In his previous position in GSK Biologicals, he engineered the development of a robust vaccines pipeline, including Rotarix, to prevent infantile gastroenteritis, Synflorix to prevent Pneumococcal disease, Cervarix, to prevent cervical cancer and Mosquirix to prevent Childhood Malaria.

Moncef earned a PhD in molecular biology and immunology from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and completed postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston. He was a professor or immunology at the University of Mons, Belgium. He has authored more than 100 scientific papers and presentations and is a Member of the PhRMA Board of Directors. A citizen of Morocco and Belgium, he is fluent in English, French, and Arabic.

Kris Famm

Kris Famm is Head of the Bioelectronics R&D unit at GlaxoSmithKline Plc, which is tasked with bringing about a whole new class of bioelectronic medicines for the company. He is working to uncover the potential of medicines that use neural electrical impulses to treat disease and to address the many scientific and business challenges that surround this new modality.

He is also the external face of Bioelectronics R&D, conveying GSK’s bioelectronics vision to the external R&D community, business partners and the public. In his early work as a scientist, Kris studied chemical engineering before moving to molecular biology research. Since joining GSK from McKinsey & Co management consultants, Kris has enjoyed a rapid rise through roles including head of the R&D Strategy Group and Head of the Protein Degradation research unit.

Multimedia

Photos

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Videos

YouTube Interviews with Moncef Slaoui and Kris Famm on the origin of the idea, where we could see benefit, and animations are available on our YouTube channel.

Broadcast-quality Broadcast-quality footage of the clips on YouTube is available on request for use by media. To request access, contact us through our media office.